City Council voted in June to use up to $106.7 million of Austin's more than $260 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding on homelessness, contingent on other entities contributing millions more to local housing and service efforts. Council passed its ARPA outline with the expectation that city staff would develop a spending plan for the homelessness dollars by mid-summer, in part informed by community feedback, although that process had not publicly moved forward until this month.
The city announced Oct. 11 that residents will soon have the chance to share their thoughts. Austin's homeless strategy team is hosting a pair of virtual forums set for 6:30 p.m. on both Oct. 14 and Oct. 18, including an overview of the city's plans and opportunities to ask questions. Input is also being collected through a survey accessible via a new SpeakUp Austin page; registration information for the forums is available through the same website.
“As a community, we have an exciting opportunity to dramatically expand our homelessness response and make significant and sustainable change,” Homeless Strategy Officer Dianna Grey said in a statement. “As these plans are being formed, it’s important that we hear from community members and hear their feedback on the investments that will have the most impact.”
Following the public feedback period, Grey is also set to share details on the regional housing plan set through this spring's Summit to Address Unsheltered Homelessness in Austin. The summit featured a range of community stakeholders and produced a goal to house at least 3,000 people within three years.
Council had initially requested that the initiative's leadership and funding be detailed earlier in the summer, although the city said Grey is now set to present an update to council later this month.
“There is tremendous support and momentum to make a difference for our community and especially our unsheltered neighbors,” Grey said. “By working with community partners, we can take large strides in making homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring in Austin.”
Austin's movement on its ARPA-funded homelessness efforts comes weeks after Travis County announced a homeless housing plan backed by its own federal relief dollars. The city also recently joined a national housing program through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development designed to maximize ARPA spending on homelessness.